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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa cleared of wrongdoing in ‘Farmegate’ scandal

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By Associated Press: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was cleared of wrongdoing Friday by a public watchdog over a scandal involving the theft of greater than half 1,000,000 {dollars} in U.S. forex that had been stashed on a settee at his recreation farm.

Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka, whose workplace holds politicians to account, stated Ramaphosa didn’t violate the ethics code for members of South Africa’s government over the incident, which occurred in 2020 however was solely revealed publicly final yr.

The scandal was seen as the most important problem to Ramaphosa’s fame and his management of Africa’s most developed economic system. There remains to be an ongoing felony investigation into the incident.

Ramaphosa stated $580,000 in money was stolen. Gcaleka stated it was not a part of her investigation to substantiate how a lot cash was concerned and didn’t give a determine.

Ramaphosa, 70, was accused of not reporting the theft correctly to police in an try and cowl up the existence of the big sum of money hidden in furnishings at his farm. He stated he reported it to the top of his safety element, which is a part of the South African Police Services.

In clearing him in her last report on the scandal, Gcaleka accepted that Ramaphosa had reported the crime to the top of his private safety unit and the competition that he had acted improperly was “not supported.”

Gcaleka additionally stated there was no proof that Ramaphosa was responsible of a battle of curiosity concerning any earnings from the enterprise operations of his Phala Phala recreation farm within the northern Limpopo province.

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“The allegation that the president improperly and in violation of the provisions of the executive code exposed him(self) to a risk of a conflict between his constitutional duties and obligations and his private interests arising from his alleged paid work at Phala Phala farm is not substantiated,” Gcaleka stated at a information convention.

The investigation of Ramaphosa was prompted by a grievance made to the Public Protector’s workplace by the opposition African Transformation Movement Party.

The incident got here to gentle final June when the previous head of South Africa’s intelligence service, Arthur Fraser, opened a case with police accusing Ramaphosa of hiding as a lot as $4 million at his farm earlier than it was stolen. Fraser accused the president of cash laundering and breaching tax and international forex management legal guidelines, and trying to cowl up the theft of the money in an try to cover its existence.

Ramaphosa denied any wrongdoing and likewise disputed the sum of money Fraser claimed was stolen.

Fraser additionally made different startling claims that Ramaphosa ordered the top of his private safety unit, Maj. Gen. Wally Rhoode, to undertake a clandestine investigation to recuperate the cash, together with the seize and torturing of a number of the suspects and later bribing them to maintain the incident secret.

Public Protector Gcaleka dispelled these allegations, and even that Ramaphosa knew of particulars of the investigation by Rhoode.

“No evidence could be found to prove that the president was aware of the investigation of the crime by Gen. Rhoode,” she stated.

The scandal had significantly dented Ramaphosa’s picture as a pacesetter intent on cleansing up South Africa’s corruption-tainted authorities and his ruling African National Congress social gathering.

Questions stay, although, over why such a lot of cash was stuffed into a settee on the farm. Ramaphosa has not defined why the money was on the couch however has stated that it was the proceeds from the sale of buffaloes to a Sudanese businessman.

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The scandal led to opposition events calling for Ramaphosa’s resignation however they failed in an try to begin impeachment proceedings towards him as his ANC social gathering maintains a majority within the 400-member Parliament.

In December, a report by a parliamentary panel wanting into the matter discovered that Ramaphosa could have damaged anti-corruption legal guidelines. According to that report, Ramaphosa stated the cash stolen amounted to $580,000.

The report additionally questioned Ramaphosa’s clarification that the cash was from the sale of buffaloes because it discovered the animals remained on the farm greater than two years later.

However, the ANC rejected the findings of the report and used its majority in Parliament to dam makes an attempt to begin impeachment proceedings, paving the way in which for Ramaphosa to be re-elected because the social gathering’s chief. He is predicted to hunt a second and last five-year time period in elections subsequent yr.